Photo Gallery The Underbelly of Germany's Sex Trade

Just over a decade ago, Germany legalized prostitution in the hopes that it would help sexworkers emerge from the margins of society and enjoy legal protections. It hasn't worked out that way. There are indications that pimps are as powerful as ever and human trafficking remains a scourge.
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Just over a decade ago, Germany legalized prostitution in the hopes that it would help sexworkers emerge from the margins of society and enjoy legal protections. It hasn't worked out that way. There are indications that pimps are as powerful as ever and human trafficking remains a scourge.

Foto: dpa Picture-Alliance / Oliver Berg/ picture alliance / dpa
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The website of Airport Muschis -- or "Airport Pussies" -- a flat-rate bordello that used to operate near Berlin's Schönefeld Airport. Alina worked there upon arrival in Germany and was hardly ever allowed to leave. She says that she eventually stopped counting how many men got into her bed. "I blocked it out," she says. "There were so many, every day."

Foto: Airport-Muschis.de
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There are some 200,000 women working as prostitutes in Germany, accounting for some €14.5 billion in annual revenues, the Ver.di services union estimates.

Foto: Hannibal Hanschke/ REUTERS
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There is plenty of evidence that the situation of prostitutes in Germany has not improved as a result of its legalization in 2001.

Foto: Oliver Berg/ dpa
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Most of the architects of the 2001 law legalizing prostition remain in favor of keeping it legal even as several other European countries have decided to follow in Sweden's footsteps. Christine Bergmann, pictured here, was Germany's family minister when the law was passed.

Foto: Stephanie Pilick/ dpa
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The influx of women means that prices are dropping. Here, a so-called "working stalls" -- essentially walled off parking spots for car sex -- are provided for sexworkers. Prostitutes who work there say that oral sex and intercourse can be had for as little as €10.

Foto: dpa Picture-Alliance / Oliver Berg/ picture alliance / dpa
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Green Party politician Volker Beck pushed hard for the legalization of prostitution and continues to support it today. "A ban doesn't improve anything, because then it will just happen in places that are difficult to monitor," Beck says.

Foto: Wolfgang Kumm/ dpa
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